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I Bet You Never Knew About the Volvo 440

Although many automakers sell certain cars in the U.S. market and other cars in Europe or Asia, Volvo has generally maintained a practice of selling all its cars in every country. Except, of course, for the 440. See the Volvo models for sale near you

If you’ve never heard of the Volvo 440 (a 5-door hatchback) or the 460 (its 4-door sedan variant), you aren’t alone — and you’re probably a little surprised to see the picture shown above. But this image isn’t Photoshopped, and this car isn’t some weird Volvo rebadge. This was an actual Volvo, made by Volvo and sold in Europe throughout the late 1980s and most of the 1990s.

Here’s the situation. When the 440 came out, Volvo’s lineup in the U.S. primarily consisted of larger vehicles (and also the 240, which soldiered on until 1993). But Volvo wanted a smaller car for the European market to replace the also-Europe-only 340 and 360. The result was the 440, which looks sort of like a 7/8-scale copy of the Volvo 940 sedan.

Not surprisingly, the 440 and the 460 weren’t exactly much fun. The engine range was limited solely to 4-cylinder powerplants, and output ranged from 78 horsepower to all of 122 hp in a turbocharged model. But in true Volvo fashion, these models did offer anti-lock brakes and traction control, which was unusual for the time.

Another unusual feature: Although the 440 and the 460 launched with conventional automatic and manual transmission choices, later models offered an early version of the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). I can only imagine how an early CVT has stood up to 20 years of depreciation and use.

Eventually, the Volvo 440 and 460 were phased out and replaced by the S40 and V40, both of which were sold in America. But those of us who get excited by especially rare cars will always have a place in our hearts for these little Volvos, even if we’ve never seen them in person. Find a Volvo for sale

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Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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  1. For a while in the Mid-90’s, the 440/460 came with about 5 Engines and 5 Trim Levels. Nothing fancy there but you could have any Engine with any Trim Level. Base Model with Turbo Engine? No problem. Full CD Trim Leather Interior with a Widow-making 88bhp? Sign here sir.  This meant the only Factory Option was Metallic Paint.

  2. I had a 440 with 5 speed manual and manual windows while stationed in UK.  It was a good car and would have like to bring back to the U.S.  I thought it was fun with the 5 speed manual… 

  3. Don’t forget the Volvo 360 (which was also not sold in the USA.) It was made from 1976 to 1991 and featured a rear mounted transaxle (like a Ferrari!) and leaf-sprung rear suspension (like a horse and cart!)  

    I learnt to drive in an up-spec 360GLT that had the 2 litre engine from the 240 rather than the Renault 1.7  It was still awful – slow, noisy, cramped and socially demeaning.

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